It’s Just Some Plastic by David Buckwalter

I stared down at the small plastic wrapper in the quiet parking lot. It was freezing and I just wanted to get in my car, but for some reason I couldn’t. I knew in a flash that the wind could come and take away the wrapper before my eyes, never to be seen again. But it certainly would’ve been thought of again. In that instant, a thousand scenarios flashed through my mind. Maybe this tiny wrapper flies away to the ocean, contributing to the ever-growing mound of trash that destroys the sea life. Or maybe it would blow into someone’s yard, ruining their perfectly green landscape they worked hard to maintain. Perhaps it would not blow away at all, but rather sit in the parking lot for eternity, forever a reminder than some young man refused to pick up this trash.

Many people wouldn’t think twice about such a small wrapper, but I didn’t want to be like those people; people who would take a shortcut for their convenience while disregarding such major consequences that they would never deal with. In that moment, however, I was tempted to be that person. “It’s just a wrapper after all, right? It won’t actually cause any harm.” The cold air told me these things, while my mind fought back.

Is this who I am? Someone who can see the disaster a mile away, and yet just… walk away? I’m supposed to be someone good, someone who cares about the earth and the people around me. I want to fix the problems of the world, certainly not make them. I couldn’t possibly live with myself knowing that ignored such a big deal, even if it wasn’t my wrapper. It reveals a lot about someone who casually can walk past some trash without feeling at least a little guilt.

I made my decision. I braved the cold and walked over towards the little piece of plastic. I knelt down, picked it up, went over to the nearest trashcan, and tossed away the potential guilt. Sure, it was only a tiny wrapper, but all the issues in the world once started out that size. I believe that the only way to fix these problems and make the world a better place is by taking small steps, over and over.

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